Davis-Monthan History

An image representing the rescue and attack assets at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (DMAFB), a key Air Combat Command installation, has a colorful history and a long tradition of excellence in service to our country. The base was named in honor of Lieutenants Samuel H. Davis, Jr., and Oscar Monthan, two Tucsonans and World War I-era pilots who died in separate military aircraft accidents after the war ended.  DMAFB was initially established as a military aviation training facility in 1940 and served as a major training base for B-24 Liberator and, later, B-29 Superfortess aircrews during the WW II. The sudden end to the war in August 1945 caused all B-29 training to abruptly end and transformed DM’s flight operations into the unique mission of aircraft storage, a mission that remains until this day. In March 1946 with the Strategic Air Command taking control of DM, bomber operations and training would remain the primary missions until the early 1960. During this era B-29s, B-50s, and B-47s were the primary aircraft assigned to DMAFB. The decade of the 1960’s brought sweeping changes to DMAFB. It was during this time that the U.S. Air Force’s first operational Titan II missile wing, the 390th Strategic Missile Wing activated. Reconnaissance and Combat Crew Training returned to DMAFB and turned the base into a three wing installation, 390 SMW, 4453rd Combat Crew Training Wing, and the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. The primary aircraft assigned to D-M AFB during this era were the F-4 Phantom II and U-2 Dragon Lady. Davis-Monthan’s operations tempo during the 1970s was as busy as the three previous decades. On July 1, 1971 the Air Force reactivated the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) at DM with the Vought A-7D Corsair II as the primary weapon system. On March 2, 1976 the wing received the first A-10A. In the midst of constant Air Force changes, jurisdiction of DM was officially transferred from the Strategic Air Command to Tactical Air Command on 30 September 1976. The decades of the 1980s and 1990s brought several diverse missions to DM. The 836th Air Division activated 1 January 1981 and took jurisdiction over all assigned base units. The 868th Tactical Missile Training Group, which trained the crews to operate, maintain, and defend the Ground Launch Cruise Missile system activated. Other units assigned to DM were the 41st Electronic Combat Squadron, and the 602nd Tactical Air Control Wing. In 1984 the Titan II wing inactivated, while the cruise missile mission terminated in 1990. Resulting treaties between Russia and the U. S. concerning ground launch cruise missiles meant the base was subject to inspection under the INF and START agreements. Additionally, the 355th continued to train A-10 crews for assignments to units in the United States, United Kingdom and Korea, supported Operation DESERT STORM, completed five Operation SOUTHERN WATCH deployments, and provided Compass call assets for Operation ALLIED FORCE.  Since the attacks of 9/11 the 355th Fighter Wing has completed nine deployments in support of multiple contingency campaigns around the world. While a majority of the deployments supported combat operations in Central Command’s Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, and Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, European Command and Pacific Command were also supported on separate deployments with Theater Security Packages (TSP) comprised of 355th units. These vital TSP operations prevented the spread of aggressive forces into Eastern Europe and the Republic of Korea. In support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, the 355’s latest deployment, new combat records were set for number of sorties flown, combat hours completed, and ordnance expended. Presently, the 355 FW has become the 355 WG, after realigning the 563 RQG giving the wing full Combat Search and Rescue capabilities, to better serve combatant commanders around the globe. The 355 WG serves as the host unit for the DMAFB and provides support functions for 34 unique mission partners, to include 12th AF Headquarters, 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, 55th Electronic Combat Group, and the 162nd Arizona Air National Guard alert Detachment. Other federal agencies using the base include the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) air service branch, and U.S. Border Patrol.

Rescue & Attack!